According to the woman in the seat adjacent to mine as we dodged raindrops under the “acoustic tent” at the Blues Festival, Friday was the first time in the festival’s 22 year history that the music was stopped (temporarily) because of the weather (lightening). Odel and I weren’t there on Friday, but we saw it all on Saturday!
Planning to attend just one day of the festival (tickets are $40/person per day), we chose Saturday based on the weather report. On Friday, the heaviest rain fell while we were in a movie theatre, but we got a solid drenching as we walked home after dinner. Saturday looked perfect, and we headed over to join the crowd around noon.
It has been a LONG time – at least a decade – since I visited a music festival, and I learned a lot yesterday about the difference in my stamina between then and now!
Like everyone else, we took our folding camp chairs along, and set them up between the main stage (huge, with tons of electronics and lighting, all seating on grass in the open) and the acoustic tent (smaller. covered, considerably more intimate, chairs provided). Music alternated between the two stages, with smaller acts on the acoustic stage while the large acts set up on the main stage – the audience migrated between the two venues. Everything was well organized – easy to purchase tickets, very good food available, beverage vendors of all kinds (food and drinks purchased with tokens, which keep the lines moving quickly), plenty of porta-potties with hand washing stations (with soap and paper towels!) – and the music was non-stop.
After walking about a mile to reach the park entrance, we spent a few hours in bright, hot sunshine, enjoying the music, the views, and the people watching – plus a few brews and snacks. Then it was time for a break and a trek back home to apply more sunscreen before we returned for the headline acts.
Oops, miscalculation: we didn’t need more sunscreen, we needed long pants, long sleeves, and raincoats. Just after Reverend Raven and the Chain Smoking Alter Boys (my favorite band name, second favorite act of the day) finished their set under the tent, a strong, cold, wind pushed a big, black, wet cloud over the hills and the main stage. Odel headed back home to come back with the car and warm clothing; I took a seat in the acoustic tent and heard my favorite act of the night, a solo blues singer from Greenville, Mississippi, Eden Brent. Wow – could she scorch a keyboard!
Shortly after the moon rose, Odel and I regrouped at our chairs in front of the main stage, awaiting the headline act, Dr. John and the Lower 911. We put on our raincoats (wind protection), and I draped my sweatshirt over my bare legs but, three songs into the set (9:30), we were ready to find the car. The crowd had thinned considerably by then, a combination of the windy, cold, damp weather and the average age of the audience, I guess. :)
For me, the smaller, more intimate space of the acoustic tent was the winner. I prefer the smaller acts, slower tempo, “don’t you wrong me” vocals, keyboard, harp, sax over the kick-ass screaming guitars and mostly unintelligible lyrics of the main stage. I love bluesy woman, mostly playing the acoustic tent venue. Where the main stage was loud and fast, the acoustic tent was throbbingly soulful, much more intimate.
As I write this (Sunday noon), I can hear the music booming across the harbor, competing with the sounds of flags snapping, awnings flapping, and strong winds in the riggings of the sailboats moored outside our door. The sun occasionally breaks through the thick grey clouds, but sweatshirts appear to be the garment of choice. I’m happy sitting inside, watching the freighters go by.